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TICKLED PINK: Hoyas Upset #15 Creighton on the Road 86-79

Blair and Picket lead first half, Bile and Wahab lead the second

NCAA Basketball: Georgetown at Creighton Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

The Georgetown Hoyas (5-8, 3-5) beat No. 15 Creighton (13-5, 9-4), 86-79, in Omaha on Wednesday night on Creighton’s Cancer Pink Out night. It’s the Hoyas’ second win in as many games since the three-week COVID-19 pause.

Hot shooting by both squads was the story of the first half as each team was above 53% from the field and 50% from three—with the Hoyas 8-13 from beyond the arc in the first half. In the second half, Georgetown defended the three well, with Creighton only hitting 4-14, and was led offensively by Chudier Bile’s 15 points in the half.

The Hoyas started Qudus Wahab, Jamorko Pickett, Jahvon Blair, Dante Harris, and Chudier Bile after his nomination to the BIG EAST Honor Roll this week. They wore the blue Iverson-era kente jerseys and pink Jordans, while Creighton wore white uniforms with pink trim. Marcus Zegarowski, Christian Bishop, Damien Jefferson, Mitch Ballock, and Denzel Mahoney started for the Bluejays. There was some drama over a last-minute referee substitution.

The two fast-paced offenses felt each other out for all of about 2 minutes before the shots came freely and started falling fast. Georgetown had 4 turnovers within the first 4 minutes, including two walks by Wahab in the post and a offensive hooking foul by Blair, when Patrick Ewing called a timeout. Things didn’t quite improve for the Hoyas until a stoppage when Creighton’s Jefferson went down with a twisted ankle. Creighton led 12-13 with 14 minutes left.

Georgetown led by 8, 21-13, at the 11:52 media break, being on an 11-0 run for almost 3 minutes. Creighton had a couple turnover but Georgetown was having success lobbing down low. GU was 9-11 from the field and 3-3 from three. Creighton changed to zone and the teams started trading threes. With 9:45 left in the half, Blair was fouled on a floater and hit two free throws to make it 29-19. He had 10 points before a breather.

With Blair out, the Hoyas turned it over twice—a lob to Pickett slapped out and a poor handoff from Harris to Carey for a breakaway layup by Mahoney. GU called a 30-second timeout which turned to a media timeout, 29-24, 8:30 left. Out of the timeout, Carey almost coughed one up but was fouled. Bile drove and missed a short jumper but Wahab got the offensive board and got to the line.

With 3:52 left in the half, at a media timeout after Creighton’s 8th turnover, Georgetown was up 36-31. Out of the timeout Ighoefe committed a moving screen for GU’s 9th turnover. Pickett hit back-to-back threes with a sweet stroke and you could hear the NBA scout muttering about “potential.”

Creighton called timeout with 2:53 left in the half, GU up 42-31. Zagarowski then got a steal off Pickett and led the break for an easy layup. Carey committed a foul and missed a step-back three. Ballock hit a long three and then Mitchell snuck in for a layup. Creighton had an 8-0 run before Carey hit a runner in the paint before the buzzer to end the half.

At halftime, Georgetown led 44-39, shooting 16-28 from the field and 8-13 from three. Creighton shot the ball just as well, going 15-28 from the floor and 6-12 from beyond the arc. Pickett and Blair combined for 25 points on 4-5 (3PT) and 4-7 (3-4 3PT) shooting, respectively. Bile was 1-5 and had no free throws. Creighton had 9 turnovers and Georgetown had 10. Unsurprisingly, the Hoyas won the rebound battle of the half 15 (4 offensive) to 11 (3 offensive). Zegarowski had 4 points, but Ballock and Bishop each had 9 points,

Offensively, the Hoyas relied on many slip screens and pops for open looks at three. Blair had 6 assists. Dump-down lobs worked as Creighton tried to front Wahab and Ighoefe. Good things continued to happen when Bile drove, although his shot wasn’t falling in the first.

Georgetown’s first-half defense looked solid when the shots were falling for them, but Creighton’s run at the end showed Ewing’s guys what can happen if they blink. Ewing had them mixing defenses a bit and Georgetown appeared to be hedging and helping differently on screens. The Hoyas would have to hope their defense in the second continued because maintaining this hot shooting was nearly impossible.

To start the second half, shot clocks were added to the floor as the basket countdowns weren’t working. Of course the Hoyas had a shot-clock violation after a no-call on a Blair layup that sent him flying. Each team traded some rimmed out shots for two minutes and Ballock got a layup. Creighton called timeout on a loose ball after a long rebound and they were only down three, 44-41 with 17:29 left. Hoyas were not credited with any turnovers in the half yet, but it didn’t feel like clean basketball or good decisions. Zegarowski hit a three to tie it up, but Blair countered with his fourth from deep. Bile got back to back buckets, separated by a timeout, with the latter layup on a steal. Mahoney hit a three and Bile cleaned up a long Pickett jumper for a layup, 53-49, before Zegarowski was fouled and hit two free throws.

The score crept to 57-54 with about 11:30 left and Pickett made a couple prototypical plays. First he dribbled too much and put a layup up too weakly on the boards and then he passed up a three to drive and dunk only to be called for a charge. The posterizing move would have been awesome had not the cross-court referee made the call. This blog contributor still thinks that the defneder’s moving heels were on the protected-area arc, but it’s over. CU’s Jones was called on a charge on the other end after the media timeout. Wahab was called with an over-the-back foul as the referees found their whistles—until Bile got a board and hoop and ended up on the baseline floor. Hoyas were still up 59-54 thanks to Bile’s hustle under 10 minutes left.

Ballock made a runner to make it 61-56 and I had the thought about how he was the type of player Georgetown fans would have loathed deeply had he been on Syracuse, Pitt, ND, or another one of the programs mentioned by Zach Braziller’s recent article on troubled former BIG EAST foes.

Pickett posted up and spun baseline to make his first bucket since halftime. Creighton suffered a few turnovers and Bile had a breakaway dunk. Bile (10 points this half, 5-7) changes speed well—he slows down near the bracket and finishes nicely. Hoyas led 67-57 with 7:45 left at a CU 30-second timeout stretched to full.

Creighton hit a two and Blair was fouled on a three, making only two as he hit 18 points for the night. Pickett fouled Mahoney as he failed to move his feet on a drive and Creighton pulled to 69-61. The Bluejays showed a little press but the Hoyas worked it into Wahab for a baby hook. Bile made a steal and get fouled as he broke away, making 1 of 2 free throws. 72-61 with 6 minutes left. Creighton pressed but it didn’t look urgent. Harris made a tough drive and couldn’t draw a foul. Bishop scored and Pickett missed a baseline jumper before Bishop received a dish from Zegarowski and had a reverse slam to make it 72-66 before Ewing called timeout with 4:37 left.

Creighton had a morphing 1-3-1 zone and Harris found Bile in a soft spot. Wahab had a block and recovered. Georgetown wasn’t relenting without a fight. Wahab hit another baby hook in the post and ran down and blocked a baseline job, but was whistled for a foul, his fourth. 76-66 with three minutes left. Hoyas in the bonus, Creighton in double bonus. The announcers, Kevin Fitzgerald and Bill Raftey, mentioned how there were four loses by ranked teams tonight, including Villanova.

Mahoney made a free throw, Blair missed a new, and Ballock drained one from deep. 76-70. There was some shot-clock confusion just after the two-minute mark, as foreshadowed right after the half, and Georgetown was given a new 20-second clock. The next play, of course, also a buzzer question as Blair banked a three in. 79-70.

Then a nail-biting foul game started. Pickett rebounded a Creighton miss and was fouled, missing the front-end of the 1-and-1. Harris fouled Zegarowski who hits three foul shots. 79-73 with 57 seconds. The ball was inbound to Blair who was pushed out of bounds and sent to the line for two, where he made the latter. 80-73 with 54 seconds. Hoyas defended a layup and Pickett pulled a rebound, was fouled, and hit two. Harris over-exerted himself and fouled Zegarowski who hit the first from the charity stripe and Wahab, who just came back in, pulled the rebound and was fouled. Wahab missed both free throws but Creighton couldn’t find the hoop from three and Bile was fouled after the board. Mahoney hit a three to make it 84-77 with 15 seconds left as CU called timeout for one last defensive stand. Hoyas inbound the ball to Harris who was hacked with 13 seconds left and made his free throws. Blair almost got a steal but was called for the foul. While some of Georgetown’s late-game fouls were frustrating, their continued aggressiveness on the defense end was welcomed by at least one fan. Harris dribbled through the press as the referees were sick of whistling and Georgetown celebrated their road win over the ranked Bluejays.

While the first half story was three-point shooting, the second half was led by Bile (6-8) and Wahab (3-6). Georgetown shot 13-30 from the field and 2-8 3PT and held Creighton to 12-29 from the floor and 4-14 from three in the second half. Hoyas had only 3 official turnovers in the half (13 total) while CU had 6 (15 total).

The Hoyas In a post-game interview, Ewing talked about how they tried to limit Creighton’s threes on the defensive end, especially Ballock, and move the ball to create motion offensively. Ewing acknowledged that the pause/break may have helped the Hoyas collect themselves. Patrick Ewing also praised the late Temple coach John Chaney and sent his condolences to the family.

Georgetown will try for another ranked win as they next play at No. 3/3 Villanova Wildcats on Sunday, February 7 ( 2:30 pm), at Villanova’s Finneran Pavilion on FOX. Sunday’s matchup with Villanova will replace the Georgetown-Villanova game that was set for Wednesday, February 17th.